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General sound map

Recordings of background atmospheres and incidental noises from all over London. Some form part of a sound grid series recorded at evenly-spaced points across the city, each marking the centre of a square on the map below.

1 3 5
2 4 3 3 11
1 1 1 1 6 5 7 16 21 3 18 1 1
2 8 22 11 3 5 5 17 5 4 2 1 4 1  
3 11 4 7 9 6 25 39 21 38 8 1 5    
1 3 5 7 5 48 42 56 38 11 8 3 2
1 1 2 7 6 15 8 40 15 5 1 1 4
1 1 41 2 8 4 1 9 7 1 1
3 4 3 7 1 3 5 2  
6 1 20 6 1 3 1 1
1 1 2 1 1
1 1

Above: graphic based on a daytime satellite image courtesy of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. Each red grid square is 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers across.

The Wandle near Copper Mill Lane 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 19 May 2011

Time of day: 7.25pm

Location: By the Wandle opposite the electricity station at Copper Mill Lane, south London.

Description: Buzzing sound of coronal discharge from the electricity station, faint birdsong, traffic on Plough Lane, a jogger runs past.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle Summerstown 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 19 May 2011

Time of day: 7.45pm

Location: On the riverside path in Summerstown, near Earlsfield, south London.

Description: Loud rushing of the Wandle in a stretch of the river with a noticeable drop, aeroplane drone in distance.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle south of Plough Lane 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 19 May 2011

Time of day: 7.20pm

Location: By the Wandle near Waterside Way and Plough Lane, south London.

Description: A blackbird's alarm call, distant traffic and aeroplane drone, faint sound of the river, intermittent bangs from an industrial estate.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle by King Georges Park 1:00pm

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 15 May 2011

Time of day: 4pm

Location: On a short stretch of path along the river, overlooking King George's Park, Wandsworth.

Description: Loud rushing of water as the river flows over a small weir, dull thumps as a football is kicked about in the park nearby, indistinct cries of players.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle off Garratt Lane 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 15 May 2011

Time of day: 3.45pm

Location: Junction of Garratt Lane and Maplteton Road, Wandsworth.

Description: Loud sound of passing traffic, gentle trickling from the river, aeroplane drone, a moped drives past near the end.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

Southside shopping centre Wandsworth 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 15 May 2011

Time of day: 3pm

Location: Walking through the Southside shopping centre, Wandsworth.

Description: Echoing voices and footsteps of visitors in the shopping centre beneath which the Wandle flows.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics and Edirol R09-HR recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

The Wandle by St Johns Drive 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 15 May 2011

Time of day: 4.30pm

Location: On a footbridge over the Wandle, with St John's Drive to the east.

Description: Distant traffic and aeroplane drone, faint noises from the flats on St John's Drive, birdsong close by, gurgling of water.

Technical guff: Headworn stereo. 2 x DPA 2006C mics and Fostex FR-2LE recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

TQ 2439 7309 1:00

Grid square: Putney Heath, Wandsworth, Wimbledon Common

Recording date: 19 February 2009

Time of day: 3.00pm

Location: TQ 2439 7309. Albert Drive.

Description: A suburban street with noticeable aircraft drone, birdsong, someone getting into a car and starting the engine.

Technical guff: Head-worn stereo. 2 x Shure WL-183 mics. Olympus LS-10 digital recorder.

Recorded by: IM Rawes

Additional notes: None.

About general sound map recordings

The majority of recordings on the general sound map are simply of curious or distinctive sounds heard around London. Some also appear elsewhere as part of the 12 Tones of London statistical recording project, and here are subsumed into their appropriate grid squares.

These kinds of recordings always have descriptive file names which don't require any further explanation. But just over a hundred others have ones consisting only of the letters 'TQ' followed by eight digits. These are the Ordnance Survey co-ordinates marking the exact centre of each of the sound map's 112 grid squares, and so these file names tell you with some precision where the recordings were made. Reaching each point was done with the help of a GPS receiver and a willingness to scramble over fences and run onto golf courses. The contents of those recordings are summarised in the graphic below:

The key on the left-hand side shows the most common sound categories encountered. The louder a particular sound type encountered at the centre of a grid square, the darker its icon. More than one icon of the same kind means that sound takes up more of the recording's length. Despite the wide spacing of the recording points and the brief duration of the sound files, they seem to do a reasonable job of plotting in outline the common or persistent sound types heard around London during the daytime.